Effectiveness bank home page. Opens new window Hot topics

Below is a list of all 43 hot topics – essays by Drug and Alcohol Findings explaining the background and evidence relating to topics which sometimes prompt heated debate. They are a popular way to get up to speed on the issues which matter in drug and alcohol policy and practice in Britain, and often too internationally. Starting with the most recently added or updated hot topics, the list shows in orange the type of entry, year the original document was published (or if one of our own documents, the year last updated), and the type of file you will download when you click on the title. In blue is the document’s title followed by a brief description.

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HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
What about evidence-based commissioning?

In the UK the landscape of drug and alcohol service commissioning to meet need in an area has radically altered – a leap in the dark illuminated only dimly by prior evidence and current evaluations.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
What makes for an effective treatment service?

Different treatment services can vary hugely in their outcomes. What characterises an effective treatment service, and how can these attributes be boosted?

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
What is addiction treatment for?

The answers to the title question might seem obvious, but who drug addiction treatment is for and what it should aim to achieve are contested territory.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Drug education yet to match great (preventive) expectations

Once relied on as the best way to prevent substance use and related problems across a population, drug education in schools has failed to deliver on this agenda: wrong agenda, or wrong education?

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Individualising treatment: an obviously ‘good thing’?

Individualisation might seem an obvious and basic prerequisite to substance use treatment, but in fact services have often striven for uniformity.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Should we start prevention in the cradle?

Focusing on the early years to avert substance use problems makes sense, but does it work?

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Opiate-blocking implants: magic bullet or dangerous experiment?

Opinion is sharply divided on the ethics and effectiveness of long-acting implanted or injected opiate-blocking medications, products not approved for medical practice in the UK, but which some see as a major breakthroughs in overcoming addiction to heroin and allied drugs.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Should we offer prizes for not using drugs?

Contingency management programmes reward patients for complying with treatment or not engaging in undesired substance use. It works, but often only temporarily – and perhaps at the cost of eroding the patient’s confidence and motivation.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Is it futile to match alcohol treatments to the patient?

Even if overall one type of therapy for problem drinking is no better than another, surely this is just because certain therapies worked best with certain patients? Expectations that ‘matching’ would lead to improved outcomes were dashed in what was intended to be the definitive test, but it would be premature entirely to dismiss the idea.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
How many drinkers should be in treatment?

What proportion of the UK’s problem drinkers are in treatment, how far does that fall short of the number who should be – and how do we judge ‘should’?


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